The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018. ODH and affected local health departments are investigating these cases.
Outbreaks of hepatitis A are occurring in several states across the United States, including neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter - even in microscopic amounts - from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex.
The high-risk populations for hepatitis A in this outbreak include:
- People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
- People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
- People who are currently or were recently incarcerated
- Men who have sex with men (MSM)
- People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C
Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stools and jaundice. People with hepatitis A can experience mild illness lasting a few weeks to severe illness lasting several months.
People who believe that they are at high risk for hepatitis A infection should contact their healthcare provider or local health department for information about vaccination. People who know that they have been exposed to someone with hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider or local health department to discuss post-exposure vaccination options. Individuals who experience symptoms of hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider.